AfriForum puts issue of expropriation in spotlight at UN, Geneva


AfriForum puts issue of expropriation in spotlight at UN, Geneva
AfriForum puts issue of expropriation in spotlight at UN, Geneva

On 22 and 23 November 2018, the civil rights organisation AfriForum will be attending the session of the UN’s Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law in Geneva, Switzerland, in order to muster support against the South African government’s proposed amending of the Constitution in order to enable expropriation without compensation.

This step is part of the organisation’s stepped up international campaign to mobilise pressure against expropriation without compensation and to inform the international community about the dangerous direction which the government is now embarking on with this process of land reform.

According to Alana Bailey, who is attending the UN Forum’s session in her capacity as Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for International Liaison, her organisation has already instructed its legal team to prepare for litigation to halt the amendment of the Constitution. International support in this regard however also is of the highest importance.

The South African Constitution and the protection of property rights contained therein are the result of a negotiated settlement reached between parties in the early 1990s, of which the ANC and the then NP government were key players. The decision of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation, unfortunately, indicates that the ANC is currently breaking the 1994 accord blatantly.

As pressure from the international community has played a significant role in getting the various parties to agree to the 1994 settlement, it now also is its responsibility to help ensure that the ANC adheres to this agreement.

Bailey emphasized that AfriForum does not oppose a responsible land reform programme. “However, if the principle of willing seller, willing buyer, is being waived, as is proposed, it can only be to the detriment of all residents of the country,” she explains.

“AfriForum notes with concern that President Ramaphosa on the one hand tries to convince the international community that the expropriation process will take place constitutionally and without economic harm to the country, but that, on the other hand, the Constitution does not offer any certainty any longer, as it will be amended to meet the short-term electoral aims and long term ideological goals of some parties,” says Bailey.

“Damage has already been done. International investors are deterred by policy uncertainty about property rights in the country. Property prices are falling and farmers are reluctant to develop farm infrastructure, which has an impact on food security. Credit rating agencies such as Moody’s, financial institutions (including the International Monetary Fund), opinion makers and financial experts have all voiced concerns, supported by reliable research and yet the ANC government continues to forge ahead along this path of destruction.

It is the responsibility of civil society to do everything possible to prevent South Africa from experiencing the same disastrous outcome as in the case of countries such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela,” Bailey concludes.

Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum

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